Eagle Farm races: Apache Chase shows true colours in Vo Rogue Plate

Desleigh Forster had been telling anyone who was willing to listen how Apache Chase just needed a barrier and, in the Vo Rogue Plate at Eagle Farm, the son of Better Than Ready lived up to the trainer’s billing.

Apache Chase had been forced to do plenty of work when fifth to Shooting For Gold and third to Isotope at his first two runs this prep.

“I told you all, but nobody listened,” Forster beamed as Apache Chase returned triumphantly to scale.

From gate six on Saturday, Taylor Marshall was able to bounce him to be on speed without any urgency. From there, Apache Chase was in total control and never really looked in any danger down the running.

Apache Chase causes a boilover in the @mmsnippets Vo Rogue Plate, beating home favourite Gotta Kiss in a dominant display at @BrisRacingClub Eagle Farm! Congratulations to trainer @Desracing74 and jockey Taylor Marshall 👏👏 pic.twitter.com/KoDX5OlJ3I

Forster said after the third to Isotope that Apache Chase would turn the tables in the Magic Millions and on Saturday he took the first step to living up to that billing.

“I knew once I got him back to (Eagle) Farm at the seven (1400m), he would be right. He has a really high cruising speed,” Forster said.

“I said to Taylor (Marshall) let him roll along and use his cruising speed. He’s a real serious horse this horse. Now we just have to get him to the Millions in two weeks’ time. The good thing about him is he makes his own luck, he’s out the front and rolling along.

“He looks like he’s going quite quick, but he’s not. Taylor knows him really well.”

It was a maiden Group race success for jockey Taylor Marshall, who said it was made extra special with family in attendance.

“It’s a momentous occasion, it’s a very special one,” he said.

“I’ve always had such confidence in this horse and a high opinion of him. To see him come out and do it, I’m really proud of him.”

Taylor Marshall snared his first Group race win with Apache Chase in the Vo Rogue Plate. Picture: Trackside PhotographySource:The Courier-Mail

While Forster had total confidence in the horse, the betting market sent him out a $19 chance, with Gotta Kiss the apple of punters’ eyes, starting $3.60 favourite.

Apache Chase is now the winner of three races in seven starts and safely into the MM Guineas field.

Gotta Kiss endured plenty of early scrimmaging and ended up further back than connections would have liked, then struggled to get momentum coming to the turn and was forced to make her run on the inside of the track, when the preference would have been to come wider.

“She just copped a lot of interference when they came across early, we were like a pinball back in the field,” co-trainer Matt Hoysted said.

“She ran really well to finish second, considering everything.”

Ladbrokes have kept Gotta Kiss firm in MM Guineas betting, rating her a $10 chance, with Isotope still dominating the market at $2.80.

Apache Chase is now $21 after the Vo Rogue, with yesterday’s third placegetter Oscar Zulu at $26.


Athiri gave Godolphin a second Magic Millions wildcard and another important black-type success for her CV when proving a cut above in the Listed Nudgee Stakes.

The Lonhro mare was one of Godolphin’s better two-year-olds two seasons ago, but lost her way last season.

Trainer James Cummings, who was at Eagle Farm on Saturday, opted to give her a lengthy break, missing the autumn of her three-year-old year and she’s blossoming as a four-year-old, having won the Listed Razor Sharp in Sydney prior to yesterday’s success.

“A bit of patience with her has been rewarded. She didn’t race much in the first half of last year and now we’re making the most of her being up and fit and firing,” Cummings said.

Athiri drove through and raced clear of them in the @mmsnippets Nudgee Stakes under @nashhot for @godolphin pic.twitter.com/FjP7sko4YP

Athiri now joins Roheryn (MM Snippets) as a wildcard entry for this year’s Millions day, where she will run in the $1 million Fillies & Mares (1300m). Stablemate Manicure ran second in that race two years ago, having won the Nudgee prior.

Godolphin also has Exhilarates returning to the Gold Coast this year, giving the stable another strong hand on the day.

Athiri atoned for a frustrating day to that point for the stable, after Godolphin’s earlier runners Phaistos and Hilo missed their wildcard chances.

“First and foremost we were chasing black-type for Athiri, another stakes win next to her name which is well deserved,” Cummings said.

“We will make a decision (on a Millions start) over the next seven days. We will take her to the Gold Coast and train her on the beach for a little bit.

“She’s just in a very rich vein of form this mare. We were very keen as a team to capitalise on it, not just put her away for the autumn carnival.”

James Cummings was delighted with Athiri’s win at Eagle Farm. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

The Nudgee was also the first Queensland win for Nash Rawiller since Moriarty was a carnival winner in the winter of 2014. He has had few rides in Queensland since, but intends to stay in the state through to Magic Millions.

“She settled really well in the run and she was very dominant over the last 100m. It was a really good win,” he said.

Athiri was the third wildcard to go off yesterday after Macewen and Soxagon.

Macewen fulfilled a well-hatched plan to earn himself the Millions wildcard when he came from the tail of the field to win the QTIS Magic Ticket (1200m). A new race added to this year’s calendar, the race allows QTIS horses the chance to run in the $1 million QTIS race on Millions day if they are not paid up for the series (and were not sold at another sale company).


Bobby El-Issa scored his richest race win in nine years when a late pick-up ride led to glory in the $200,000 The Buffering at Eagle Farm.

A hit-and-run mission to Brisbane to ride, which then turned into a stay for the ­Summer Carnival, has struck gold for El-Issa who didn’t have a ride in The Buffering until Glen Boss was concussed after a fall past the post in an earlier race.

El-Issa hardly had time to do the form for The Buffering when getting the late call-up to ride Soxagon, who is trained by Mark Currie and bred and owned by former The Courier-Mail sports editor Brian Burke.

But little preparation time didn’t matter as El-Issa swooped Soxagon to an impressive victory, coming on the heels of the galloper’s first stakes win in the Lough Neagh Stakes a fortnight earlier.

Soxagon wins The Buffering! @bobbsta76 pilots the Mark Currie-trained 5YO to another impressive victory, holding off a fast-finishing Niccanova. pic.twitter.com/UFI5FEnqEf

In winning The Buffering, home-bred Soxagon won a wildcard to the $1 million Magic Millions Cup (1400m) on the Gold Coast on January 16. The win was a moment to treasure for El-Issa, a former Queensland rider and two-time champion Sydney apprentice who has often ridden in NSW provincial and country areas since overcoming cancer in 2016.

It was his most lucrative race win since scoring the 2011 Magic Millions Cup on Bold Glance.

“My only concern for this horse was the pace in the race, I hadn’t done the form of the race obviously because I didn’t have a ride in it up until an hour ago,” El-Issa said. “But then I found out there was a bit of speed in the race and they split up.

“ From the 800(m) I elected to go three-deep and make a sustained run, once he saw them in his sights at the 500(m) he just really travelled and that’s a sign of a good horse.”

El-Issa is now 42 and feels every day is a blessing after conquering acute myeloid leukaemia, being close to his death bed at one stage as his weight plummeted to just 35kg.

The triumph on Soxagon was El-Issa’s second win of the day, winning the first race on Snow Valley after Ryan Maloney couldn’t make the weight.

Meanwhile, John Smerdon had thought North Afrika might be coming to the end to the end of his campaign, but the six-year-old keeps surprising him and jockey Ryan Wiggins rated his 1800m Eagle Farm Saturday success one of his best wins.

Soxagaon won again at Eagle Farm. Picture: Trackside PhotographySource:The Courier-Mail

Wiggins elected to take the sit on North Afrika when the early pace was solid, as opposed to adopting the front running role for which he is best known.

“Coming to the turn I thought he was going to show a good turn of foot and he did,” Wiggins said. “He got up off the canvas to win last time and today he came away with a harder race.”

North Afrika has had 11 starts since transferring to Central Queensland in June and this was his sixth win in that time.

Smerdon said he might now try North Afrika over even further, given the way he relaxed in the run behind horses yesterday. Smerdon took over the training from Jared Wehlow four starts back after he trained him to four straight wins in Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns.


— Ben Dorries

Annabel Neasham thought Chris Waller’s colt Ranch Hand was “unbeatable” at Eagle Farm so she was equally surprised and delighted when Queen Of Wizardry qualified for the Gold Coast Magic Millions 2YO Classic with her shock win.

Making her debut, Queen Of Wizardry was unwanted in betting in the Magic Millions QTIS 2YO Handicap (1200m) and drifted from $19 to start $31.

It was a race expected to be there for the taking for Ranch Hand, a colt owned by a powerful conglomerate including Coolmore. He was sent out $1.40 after scoring a stunning win on debut at Warwick Farm last month.

But things went amiss for third-placed Ranch Hand with jockey Nash Rawiller saying the Fastnet Rock colt “was a little bit lost” and struggled to get comfortable early in the race.

Queen Of Wizardry has produced a barnstorming run to win on debut at Eagle Farm! The @ANeashamRacing filly was too good under @smthornton99, while favourite Ranch Hand could only manage 3rd… pic.twitter.com/VpxtWEbwxH

Queen Of Wizardry, a $400,000 daughter of Not A Single Doubt, settled at the rear of the field and was behind a wall of horses in the straight but ran on strongly when jockey Stephanie Thornton got her to the outside.

The win means Queen Of Wizardry, owned by Aquis and Sky Racing presenter Lizzie Jelfs, is safely in the Magic Millions field and the filly’s odds were slashed from $101 to $13 with Ladbrokes for the $2 million race on January 16.

It means Neasham could have two runners in the Magic Millions after vets were unable to find anything wrong with Ghostwriter who was beaten a long way in the Group 3 BJ McLachlan Stakes.

The Warwick Farm-based Neasham, who had her first runner as a trainer in August after previously being an assistant to Ciaron Maher and Dave Eustace, said she was stunned that Queen Of Wizardry had toppled Waller’s colt.

Queen Of Wizardry secured her spot in the Magic Millions with an upset win. Picture: Trackside PhotographySource:The Courier-Mail

“I must admit I thought he (Ranch Hand) was unbeatable today,’’ Neasham said. “I’m glad I was wrong.

“I thought we would utilise the gate a bit better than we did but she was just a bit caught for toe (speed) early. She wasn’t really entitled to win from where she was and she lost momentum in the straight as well.

“Providing she pulls up well, she will take her place in the Magic Millions.” Thornton didn’t feel like she was on the winner when she was behind a wall of horses in the straight.

“Being by Not A Single Doubt, she was always going to hit the line well, they have got big strides,” the jockey said. “But I was in a bit of trouble halfway down the straight, I just needed a bit of daylight.

“I had the back of Ranch Hand the whole way through but he just didn’t take me anywhere.

“Once she got to the outside, she just let down brilliantly.”

Originally published asApache Chase finally delivers on Forster’s billing

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